Astral Weeks/Moondance

If sometimes I park Jeff Buckley/ The Doors/Led Zeppelin and a few others, I think that Van Morrison’s two early masterpieces, named above, are amongst my favourite albums ever. Van Morrison was famously a grumpy old curmudgeon, but what he achieved on these two early albums was extraordinary.

‘Astral Weeks’, in particular, is amazing music, played by a small group of jazz session musicians over a couple of evenings. They had never met Van The Man before, and knew nothing of him, or his music, and they had practically no time to rehearse the music that they were asked to play. So it was all produced and played pretty much on the hoof.

If I had to choose a single track from either album, it would probably be ‘Madam George’, a song about a transvestite whom Morrison had met in his native Ireland not long before he made the record.

As an aside, if I had a time capsule, I would go back to the legendary meeting of the two Morrisons, Van and Jim, in some scuzzy bar somewhere, where they drank gallons of beer, then tried to lay down some sounds for the later astonished world to hear. The story goes that they produced something that approached music, but it was so bad as to be unlistenable. I like to imagine that they enjoyed themselves though!


You might interested in an earlier thread of mine:
Just bought a cd of Astral Weeks for £2.55 inc postage which seems a bargain. Playing a favourite (and apparently Van Morrison’s favourite track) I wondered who Madame George might be. VM says it not necessarily about a drag queen (‘playing dominoes in drag’) and there are other characters in the song. One theory is that Madam George is based on the wife of WB Yeats - the mystic poet that inspired and was copied by the mystic songwriter himself. Georgie Hyde-Lees who Yeats renamed ‘George’. He was inspired by her automatic writing and used her words in his poems. Madame is often used for a medium and VM’s line ‘When you fall into a trance’ seems to fit. Of course the song is about a lot of things. Anyway, great song and great album and probably my view is a load of cobblers!

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Yes, the theory may or may not be ‘cobblers’ (and, remarkably, the song is playing on my iPhone as I type this).

We probably ought to start a few threads about some of the great conspiracy theories, such as Who Shot JFK (or perhaps even JR), Is Jim Morrison Alive and Well And Living in Panama, etc.

The fertile minds of Members will surely come up with lots more!


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Love both of these albums, since a teenager when it wasn’t fashionable to be into Van the Man!

I bought one of these back to black series of Astral Weeks on 180g Vinyl and it’s a terrible pressing. My 2015 remastered and expanded additions on CD sound ok.

Can anyone recommend a decent vinyl pressing without spending a fortune?

Now that’s a downer, as I went onto Amazon a couple of hours ago, and ordered 180gm pressings of both albums ( I only have Japanese made CDs of both). The new LPs may have to go onto the ‘Animals’ pile, if the fears that you’ve instilled in me prove well-founded.

Both great. Moondance gets more listens, as I consider it a perfect album (not a weak track).


Moondance is one of my three records for the lonely island…I like the super disc from direct discs lab (don’t know a first press), but it is expensive nowadays.

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Do you think that there are ‘weak’ tracks on ‘Astral Weeks’? I think that both are pretty perfect albums, although they are oddly different from each other for two records made so close (in time) to each other.

I’m looking forward hugely to listening to them both, and they will be vying with each other, plus the blue vinyl ‘Grace’ and probably quite a few others that I’ve forgotten about, to give the new Te Kaitora Rua its first run out.

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I looked on Amazon and your Astral Weeks is a 2016 (Rhino) repress while mine is a 2020 version from Warner.

Playing my copy now and I was wrong it sounds good, I can only think that I played this before I spent a fortune upgrading the LP12.

Life was so much easier before I got back into vinyl!

Astral Weeks is very much a sui generis album for me and yet the 1st Van album I acquired. Have literally only come to Moondance since I started using Qobuz. What a wonderful record. Great songs and great sound.

It must have irked Van Morrison to have ‘peaked’ with those two early albums, and then become a bit of a ‘cult’ performer - well, that’s my (no doubt simplified) view of his career. I have a gold CD of some of the early ‘poppy’ stuff that he made after leaving Them, which includes ‘Brown Eyed Girl’, which for me (and no doubt many other males of my age) will always be associated with the young Julia Roberts of ‘Pretty Woman’. And I had ages ago an LP of ‘St Dominic’s Preview’, which I either lost, threw out or gave away. But, to me, Van The Man has done little since that early extraordinary stuff.

Or am I missing some great things out there?f

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Yes, but I suspect that you’d never give up LPs again now, or at least not willingly, whatever new technology ‘they’ are dreaming up for us.

I suppose that the next big is probably ‘streaming’, which goes way over my head (which, if nothing else, qualifies me for membership of a boring old farts club). To me, a record is a lovely slab of vinyl, or a silver disc (if I must).

I sincerely hope you get to listen to them very soon

best wishes


Thanks, Ian, as do I, I assure you!

I had Astral weeks on one side of a C90 with Hot Rats on the other. Played them both to death in the early 90s.

Astral Weeks is still one of my favourite albums but I also like Moondance.

You don’t mention ‘Hot Rats’. Did that fall out of favour?

I have never knowingly heard a Frank Zappa record. If I were minded to dip my toe in the water, so to speak, where might be a good place to start (‘Hot Rats’ is one that gets a lot of mentions)?

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I agree wholeheartedly with you on these 2 albums … and on VM in general. I’ve never really like ‘him’ but these 2 early albums were superb.
After this, he came out with some very notably poor pop offerings like ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ which I actually detest, which is odd for me, and of course this is usually the VM tune that people, or the radio, plays.
Anyway tho, thank goodness for those earlier songs so that we can enjoy his obvious talents.

I love Hot Rats and would heartily recommend it to someone who does not know Zappa. It’s Jazz/Rock fusion stuff with Zappa humour.

Some other FZ stuff is impenetrable to me but Hot Rats will forever be one of my favourites.

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Yes I think you are missing something. Just check out Into the Music!